Clinicians need to know whether lumbosacral radiculopathy (LRS) can be attributed to work. Therefore the association between work-related risk factors and clinically assessed LRS has to be established.Methods
A systematic review was performed using Pubmed and Embase until March 2017. Inclusion criteria were that LRS was diagnosed by a clinician and exposed workers were compared to workers less or not exposed. A quality assessment and a meta-analysis were performed.Result
The search resulted in 7350 references and 24 studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria: 19 studies were rated as having a high risk of bias and five as having a low risk of bias. The median number of LRS participants per study were 209 (IQR 124–504). The meta-analysis revealed significant associations with heavy physically demanding work (OR=2.0, 95% CI: 1.5 to 2.8), bending and/or twisting of the trunk (OR=2.4, 95% CI: 1.7 to 3.6), and lifting and carrying in combination with bending and/or twisting of the trunk (OR=2.8, 95% CI: 2.2 to 3.7). Professional driving and sitting were not significantly associated with LRS.Discussion
Evidence is available that LRS can be classified as a work-related disease depending on the level of exposure to bending of the trunk and/or lifting and carrying in physically demanding work. A policy to prevent LRS should focus on work-related risk factors since no other modifiable risk factors are known.